Lower Income Children Helped by Parenting Training Sessions

A recent study examined the role of family involvement and better parenting practices in controlling behavioral problems in 4-year-old children. The study’s focus was on providing 13 two-hour training sessions to parents of kindergarten children from the lower income sections and underprivileged communities. This survey proved that when parents spent more time with children, teachers also felt that the child behaved better. The positive effect of parent involvement was similar across children from different cultural backgrounds. With more training sessions offered for the parents, there was an increased positive effect on their child’s behavior.

The tendency for more problems in child development is greater in lower income groups, especially in situations of poverty. It is important to incorporate correct practices in child rearing at the critical time. This can ensure improved health, better social outlook and less physical aggression in the children. This study also evaluated the effect of training pre-kindergarten children on improving chances of responsible behavior later on. Although the study was conducted in a large urban school district, the participants had earlier lived in a suburban region, where they were exposed to overcrowding and violence. They had faced daily stresses over money matters.

* The study picked eight schools and conducted parent-child interactive sessions as part of 13 training episodes, each lasting for two hours.
* The objective of the study encompassed improving parenting practices, setting routines for children, incorporating positive mediations between parents and children, incentives for children like congratulating the child, giving star charts and so on. All the inputs were played as short five-minute videos to instruct the parents.
* Teachers were trained to run the study design, through telephone calls, home visits, discussions and questionnaires.
* Furthermore, the parents were encouraged to set suitable targets for each child as activities or assignments and most importantly, educate the primary caretakers of the child on the approaches to achieve these goals.

* The training sessions for parents helped to improve parenting practices as well as the child’s behavior, irrespective of their background. In general, the ParentCorps concept could be associated with high satisfaction.
* Parents who had scored least on effective parenting at the start benefited most from this training. Parenting performance was increasingly better with more sessions.
* Continued training for children and parents into the second year recorded better results in child behavior.

Next steps/Shortcomings
The study was limited by a small sample size and therefore, inadequate to analyze. Despite foolproof measures, some valid information in the parent reports could have been left out. Since the teachers were the only source for rating of child behavior, their personal bias or interpretational differences could easily influence the assigning of intervention as well as feedback reporting. This led to a high drop-out rate. The total recruitment rate was low.

Children who drop out of school or display behavioral problems are likely to have a history of an underprivileged background. ParentCorps was designed to serve as a universal intervention to involve parents in the workshop. The project took off with African-American and Latino families participating. The findings support the available evidence that establishes the impact of specific parental practices on child behavior. This and previous studies also prove that preschool intervention can have a permanent effect on behavior. It is important to find families who would benefit clearing possible obstacles in parental involvement. The study brought up the feasibility of a universal family intervention carried out during pre-kindergarten days to help with behavioral problems.

For More Information:
Promoting Effective Parenting Practices and Preventing Child Behavior Problems in School Among Ethnically Diverse Families From Underserved, Urban Communities
Publication Journal: Child Development, January/February 2011
By Laurie Miller Brotman; Esther Calzada; New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.